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MSU Deans Outline Path To Cultural Change Following Nassar Crisis

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Reginald Hardwick

In response to the sexual abuse case caused by former Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar, eight deans published an article with suggestions on how the campus can move forward without forgetting the crisis. 

Click here to read the entire document published July 11 on the Inside Higher Ed website.

The article focused on three imperatives of cultural change.

Nassar, 54, was sentenced earlier this year to decades in prison, after hundreds of women and girls accused him of molesting them with his hands under the guise of medical treatment. They said the abuse went as far back as the 1990s while he worked at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Nassar is serving three prison sentences that likely will keep him locked up for life.

The first imperative cautioned the campus not to simply "move on" from the Nassar crisis even as procedures to root out predators are put into place. Here's an excerpt from article:

"Rather, we need to keep what happened and the lessons we are learning from it in front of us. The injury inflicted on the vulnerable is a symptom of a deeper cultural problem within society related to power, voice and silence."

The second imperative advocated for the evaluation and possible changes to other "unjust or inequitable campus structures and processes."  That includes rankings, tenure, and metrics of scholarship.

The last imperative addressed empowerment and leadership. Here's another excerpt:

"The culture we need requires each of us who has some power to effect change to put our effort, influence and weight on the side of creating more trust and equity. Such a transformation of the academy is only possible if we commit ourselves to holding one another accountable in our daily interactions to the values that shape our shared educational mission. Leadership in this sense must permeate the entire institution -- from the staff to the governing board, from students to the faculty, and across all levels of administration."

The article was published by: Norman Beauchamp, Jr., dean of the College of Human Medicine; Rachel Croson, dean of the College of Social Science; Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences; Ronald Hendrick, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Thomas Jeitschko, dean of The Graduate School; Mark Largent, associate dean for undergraduate education; Christopher Long, dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Cheryl Sisk, interim dean of the College of Natural Science.

Editor's Note: WKAR is part of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University.

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